Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 31, 2011

It was a very interesting weekend for sure and I hope that all of you faired through it without too many problems. Over here on the eastern shore we received a lot of wind and rain causing problems with downed trees, flooded roads and houses built in flood plains. I was working the Fisheries booth at the state fair in Timonium on Friday and when I started to get close to Route 50 on my way home, I couldn't help but feel empathy for all those attempting to head west. The bumper to bumper traffic stretched all the way to Easton. As I crossed the Bay Bridge I noticed a line of small boats headed for the ramps at Sandy Point State Park to be hauled out as a safety measure. There was even a convoy of YP (Yard Patrol) boats from the Naval Academy headed north to the safety of Baltimore I suspect.

Irene did a good job of stirring up the bay and ocean waters and fishing should begin to show changes from the stretch of summer doldrums we've experienced due to high water temperatures. Water temperatures are on a downward move into the seventies and saltwater and freshwater fish will begin to become more active. If you find yourself in cloudy water conditions when fishing think of dark colored lures, lures with rattles and spinners that send vibrations through the water to help fish locate your offerings.

A look at the Conowingo Dam shows mid-day power generation that is within normal releases; although waters are discolored to some degree fishing in the upper reaches of the bay show promise. Water temperatures are slowly decreasing and are now holding around 78-degrees. Fishing below the dam hole should improve with these water releases and the cooler water temperatures for striped bass and smallmouth bass as well. White perch fishing has been good in the lower Susquehanna and tidal rivers and creeks of the upper bay. Fishing for striped bass tends to focus around chumming and chunking at the Love Point area and to a lesser degree near channel edges near the mouth of the Magothy and around Hart/Miller Island. Henry Meyers caught this nice striped bass while fishing close to the bottom with a chunk of fresh cut white perch.

Photo Courtesy Chris Davenport

Trolling is a good option along channel edges and structure with medium sized spoons, bucktails and swim shads in tandem or behind umbrella rigs. Live lining, jigging and chunking near the pier bases at the Bay Bridge also has been productive this week.

Middle bay region fishermen are finding Spanish mackerel all the way up to the Bloody Point area by briskly trolling small Drone spoons behind inline weights or planers. Slower trolling speeds offer the opportunity to catch striped bass. Most of the bluefish in the middle bay region are still in the 12" size range although a few 18" bluefish show up now and then. The False Channel is still holding striped bass and fishermen got right back into the saddle right after Irene passed by and winds calmed. Spot are still available in shallower waters and are being live lined or chunked on the channel edge at the False Channel. Breaking fish composed of a mix of striped bass, small bluefish and Spanish mackerel are being spotted throughout the region and there is plenty of action this week.

Fishing for white perch and spot continues to be good in Eastern Bay, Hackett's Bar and the lower sections of most of the tidal rivers in the region. Croaker fishing along channel edges in the evening or deep during the day seems to be tapering off. Cooling water temperatures have spurred the shallow water fishery for striped bass and white perch along the shorelines of the bay and tidal rivers. Casting surface lures, jerkbaits, swim shads or spinnerbaits is a great way to enjoy some early morning or evening action.

Photo Courtesy Keith Lockwood

Fishermen in the lower bay region are finding plenty of striped bass holding at the Gas Docks with an appetite for live spot within a day of Irene's passing. The shallows of the Patuxent are holding a good supply of spot so most private and charter boats have been anchoring up to form a fleet on any given day. Breaking fish composed of striped bass, Spanish mackerel and bluefish can be found chasing bay anchovies throughout the entire region. Casting metal into the melee is always fun and jigging underneath is a good way to find the larger striped bass. Trolling nearby at a good clip with small Drone spoons behind inline weights or planers is a good way to catch Spanish mackerel. Fishermen are reporting there are some larger bluefish in the vicinity of the Middle Grounds and large red drum are being caught and released from the Middle Grounds up to Hooper's Island. Fishing for a mix of large spot, croakers and flounder continues to be good in the Tangier Sound area.

The few recreational crabbers that have been on the water after Irene reported that they were not disappointed with the crabs they caught from the Elk River south to Crisfield. Just about everyone reported the crabs were hungry, a lot of small ones and that crabs are fattening up.

The waters of western Maryland escaped most of the heavy rain that the eastern side of the state encountered, so most areas were running clear and fishing is good. Fisheries biologist Mark Toms reports that the upper Potomac is little changed from last week, still low and clear. It may have risen ever so slightly but we received more wind then rain. Temperatures have cooled into the mid to upper 70's due to cooler nights. Allen Forrest went out yesterday on the upper Potomac and had fun catching and releasing smallmouth bass by using a whacky rigged Senko; check out his report on the Angler's Log.

Photo Courtesy Allen Forrest

Largemouth bass fishermen are finding that the bass are breaking out of the somewhat sluggish summer mode of behavior as water temperatures drop into the seventies. Largemouth bass fishing is still best in the early morning and evening hours but bass are aggressively striking a variety of lures near cover such as grass, spatterdock fields and sunken wood. Shallow running crankbaits and spinnerbaits have been good choices as well as soft plastics.

The fishing scene in the Ocean City area is starting to bounce back fairly quickly after Irene's passing. The surf is calming down and once again fishermen are finding a mix of kingfish, small bluefish, large spot, croaker, flounder and even a few pompano in the surf on small baits. A few cobia are being caught in the surf this week by fishermen casting larger baits. Larger bluefish have been coming in through the inlet at night and a few striped bass are caught each night on swim shads or live eels. During the day flounder are the game at the inlet and the Route 50 Bridge area. In the back bay areas flounder fishing picked right up again after the storm and there is also a mix of croaker and small bluefish inside.

Reports from boats headed out to the wreck sites for sea bass or to the canyons for offshore species are scarce so far this week. Most boat owners either hauled their boats out or used two miles of ropes to tie them to something that would hold against the wind and tidal surge. As the week progresses towards the weekend progress will be made to get back out and the traditional September white marlin bite may start as soon as this weekend.

I still don't know why I fish or why other men fish, except that we like it and it makes us think and feel. - Roderick L. Haig-Brown


Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.